An Overview of Document Scanning Systems

The paperless office has been a dream of many business owners and technologists for decades now. Every time it seems like it should be a reality, however, people hold on to physical copies. First the fax machine, then the personal computer, then email and the Internet. Each time there’s something missing that keeps people coming back to paper.

These days, businesses are finding that paper is costing them money and slowing them down more than ever. In order to improve efficiency by speeding communication and collaboration companies are buying document scanning systems.

Document scanning systems are a great way to decrease a company’s reliance on physical documents, whether that’s paper, microfilm, microfiche, or other physical media. They provide the perfect mechanism to combine your company’s physical and digital document systems.

Most document scanning systems provide a number of options for the destination of the scanned document:

1)     Email
2)     Image
3)     Optical Character Recognition (OCR) system
4)     Document management system (DMS)

Scanning to email is a very common use case as email has replaced fax machines. With color documents, emailing is the best way to send documents without losing fidelity.

Scanning to image just saves a copy of the image generated by the scanner. The most popular file formats are usually TIFF, JPEG, or PDF.

Scanning to OCR is becoming more common as the technology gets better. OCR systems turn the image of the document into a true electronic version of that document. That electronic document can then be edited and searched.

Scanning to DMS is often used in conjunction with OCR systems. Businesses are employing document management systems more frequently now to save on costs and ways to improve efficiency. Document management systems use databases (Oracle or SQL are popular) to store the documents and information (metadata) about them. Using the data, users can search, analyze, and collaborate on the digital documents.

Given the possible destinations, what about the sources? Naturally, there is a hardware component that scans and digitizes the document. Given that, there are two primary methods of scanning used by scanning systems: pull scanning and push scanning.

Pull scanning is where the documents to be scanned are placed in a single location. This allows a single person to scan a lot of documents quickly. This is usually the most efficient method for scanning large amounts of documents.

Push scanning is where small groups of people can scan paper documents at their convenience. This is a more ad-hoc setup but is often more efficient for smaller amounts of documents that come in to be scanned at random times.

By implementing a document scanning system that’s tailored to your business’s specific needs, you can save money by improving your employees ability to collaborate on, communicate using, find, and analyze your company’s documents. Furthermore, by digitizing more of your physical documents, you can save on storage space and costs for those documents.

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